This cool creature is interesting both in its physical appearance as well as its lifestyle. Eastern Spadefoot Toads spend most their life buried underground. Heavy rains, occurring at nearly any time of year, cause them to emerge in large numbers and congregate at breeding pools created by the rain.
As far as appearance, they are known for their bright yellow eyes with elliptical pupils (like cat eyes) and the dark spade, which is used for digging, on each hind foot. As it digs, it wiggles its way underground, rear first. They are plump, with smooth skin and scattered, tiny warts. They range in color from olive to brown to black.
Eastern Spadefoot Toads are found throughout the eastern United States and prefer dry habitats with sandy soils, but can be found in almost any habitat. Their ability to remain buried for long periods allows them to persist even in suburban areas.
Spadefoots are rather small, growing to about 2-1/2 inches. Females can lay up to 2,500 eggs at once. Their tadpoles grow very quickly and can undergo metamorphosis in as few as 28 days.
These amphibians are nocturnal foragers with a diet of invertebrates, insects, arachnids, termites, worms, and larvae of several insect species.
Here in Ohio, the Eastern Spadefoot Toad is one of our most elusive animals. Though it generally digs several inches below the ground, it may drill down as deep as 8 feet.